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Light rail boost for £1.5bn Luton investment plan

Luton Borough Council has unveiled a £1.5 billion, 20 year, development plan spearheaded by a £200m light rail Mass Passenger Transit (MPT) system promoted and funded by London Luton Airport Ltd.

The metro will provide a 2.2km direct link between the airport and the Luton Airport Parkway main line station, replacing the existing bus service. Arup has been commissioned to design the MPT link and assist with procurement of construction contracts. A planning application is expected this autumn with work starting in 2017 for the first light rail trains to run in 2020.

Luton and its airport have both secured secured Enterprise Zone status and are promoting their plans, underpinned by good transport links to London and the Midlands, for eight business and housing development sites with backers already secured for some. These include Napier Gateway, Butterfield Business Park, High Town, Sloane International luxury apartments and Power Court.

Announcing the plans, deputy leader of Luton Borough Council, Sian Timoney, said:  “The ongoing decrease in funding for local authorities across the country is impacting on local services and residents’ lives, which is why we have stepped forward to take the lead on encouraging growth and creating quality jobs for local people.

“The time is absolutely right for Luton following significant investment in supporting infrastructure at Junction 10a of the M1, the Luton Dunstable Busway and the Luton Town Centre Transport Scheme. We have partnered with a number of respected international developers and investors in ambitious and state-of-the-art development plans with more than £1.5 billion investment potential.”

The Luton MPT will be a fully automated system, operating a 24-hour service. Construction is already under way on a £110m airport terminal improvement. Councillor Andy Malcolm, Chair of London Luton Airport, said: “I am delighted to confirm that the board has committed to start the procurement process to provide fast, easy access between Luton Airport Parkway and the airport terminal.  

“Luton is the fastest growing airport in the UK and enjoys excellent road links to London and the North while Luton Airport Parkway also gives excellent rail connectivity to the capital and the Midlands.

“The scheme we are announcing today will provide a seamless five-minute transfer time between Parkway station and the airport terminal. A total journey time of less than 30 minutes from St Pancras to the airport will beat the time from Liverpool Street to Stansted by 20 minutes and better the time from Victoria to Gatwick too.”

London Luton Airport is predicting its growth will increase its economic impact by 77% from £1.3 billion to £2.3 billion by 2030 and create 10,500 new jobs over the next 15 years.

Enterprise Zone status has been granted to three linked sites surrounding the airport, at Stirling Place, Century Park and the Airport Business Park.

Malcolm added: “LLAL is committed not only to optimising the airport’s capacity to 18 million passengers per year but also to the development of the town as a whole.

“With a catchment area of 23 million people within a two-hour travel time, London Luton Airport is ready and willing to make a significant contribution to meeting the growing demand for air travel in London and the South-East.

“Combined with the prospect of four fast trains an hour, which we are lobbying for, this investment in mass passenger transit will transform the experience of those travelling to the airport by rail, and will encourage more people to do so and therefore help to reduce congestion on the roads.

“It also has the potential to open up opportunities for development throughout the Enterprise Zone and signals our belief in its potential for economic and employment growth.”

 

If you would like to contact Jon Masters about this, or any other story, please email jmasters@infrastructure-intelligence.com.

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